Voting Lines: To the Left

Although Bill de Blasio is the Democratic Party’s nominee for mayor of New York City, he owes much of his success to the further-left Working Families Party, founded in 1998 by a coalition of labor unions, community groups and local activists—including de Blasio himself. His ascent toward City Hall has coincided with—and is now a symbol of—the party’s efforts to infuse New York politics with true progressive values.

In a city long dominated by conservative mayors, perhaps the most surprising feature of de Blasio’s rise is the sustained support he has among voters, given his commitment to a more equitable distribution of the city’s wealth, including significant tax increases on affluent New Yorkers. And while conventional wisdom says that after a primary Democrats must pivot to the right to attract wider support, de Blasio has held firm on this commitment—and current polls show him leading Republican challenger Joe Lhota by over 40 percent. The WFP is now asking de Blasio’s supporters to vote for him on the Working Families Party line. (New York City’s “fusion voting” system allows multiple political parties to cross-endorse the same candidate.) “If enough New Yorkers make our voices heard by voting on the Working Families Party ballot line, it delivers a mandate for elected officials to fight for our progressive values,” says New York State director Bill Lipton. Furthermore, the WFP believes this would bolster de Blasio’s progressive agenda as he negotiates with Governor Andrew Cuomo and state representatives in Albany.   AARON CANTÚ

Obama’s Wars: Drone Deaths 

On October 22, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International released two separate investigations into recent US drone strikes carried out in Yemen and Pakistan. The reports came out the same week as two other special reports on drones were scheduled to be presented to the UN General Assembly.

The findings are grim, especially regarding civilian deaths. HRW focused on six unacknowledged attacks that took place in Yemen between 2009 and this year, which killed eighty-two people, including at least fifty-seven civilians. Two of the six strikes clearly violated international law, according to HRW, and evidence strongly suggests that none of the strikes adhered to the policies for targeted killings outlined by the Obama administration in May.

In the meantime, the Obama administration largely refuses to confirm or deny the role of the United States in specific strikes, and has recently nominated former Pentagon official Jeh Johnson, a staunch supporter of drone strikes, to head the Department of Homeland Security. “The essential mission of the US military is to capture or kill an enemy,” he said earlier this year.

To read the reports, visit hrw.org and amnesty.org.   DYLAN TOKAR